Saturday, June 30, 2007

Going Bananas

Folks who have lived in or travelled to the tropics will testify to an abundance of interesting fruits at any time of the year.

There are so many delicious fruits to remember from Africa.

Two of my favourites from East Africa are the Baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L. on the right) and the rare Victorias (? ref. neeed). More friends have broken arms and legs trying to be the first to get at the Baobab fruit on the slippery branches of these 'upside down' giant trees!
In India such delicacies as Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.),

Mangustan (Mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana L.) and the deliciously acerbic Jambolam (Black Plums, Syzygium cumini L.) arrive in sequence in the early summer and make life very livable.

The Genus Musa:
But nothing comes close to comparing with our varieties of banana!

We have super sweet varieties, soft ones, tough ones, red ones, honey flavoured ones and the list goes on... and on.

In Kerala, the all time favourite variety of banana is the Nenthram. The word 'plantain' is misleadingly used of this fruit. This is a robust variety with seeds and a very firm texture. The taste of an orange centred, ripe fruit is quite sweet but with a tart edge to it.

The unripe fruit can be sliced thin and fried into crisp tasty chips (only coconut oil is use for frying and the combination of flavours is wonderfully aromatic), while the ripe fruit can be steamed, eaten as is, or batter dipped and made into the tastiest fritters (slightly salty batter with succulent nuggets of sweet Nenthram embeded in it).

Needless to say, fried chips and fried fritters are out for me, but the steamed varieties I can still enjoy.

Each variety has it's special flavour, texture, aroma and taste. There is the red and quite robust Sevallai (right), the chubby delicately flavoured Rasthali, and the 'anytime after food digestive', the Poovan.

Let me assure you that the temperately available common variety 'Cavendish' just does not begin to do justice to real, fresh, tropical bananas.

Why I am particularly now reminded of these wonerful fruits is mostly because in the aftermath of my hearty lesson (previous post) my diet has been severely restricted; no oil, no meat, no eggs, BUT I can eat as much as I want of vegetables and yes - fruits!

I have little if anything to complain about when the abundance and variety of very tasty fruits comes to mind. I am also reminded that our first parents were set up in a (tropical?) orchard and appear to have been fruititarians, or so implies the book of Genesis!



Anonymous said...

"So Sam is becoming a 'gnanappazham'" comments George!!!

Unknown said...

With no options, yes indeed.

For the uninitiated, that's a pun in my native Tamil that literally means 'wise banana', with a lot of mythological overtones thrown in!

Odile S said...

What am I doing in this rainy country!
That sounds very very good to me.
What beautiful pictures of fruit. wow.


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